In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic upended the nature of work and had a far-reaching impact on everybody. Now, as the dust settles, we envision a new world in which advanced technologies merge with evolving philosophies of work. Traditional change management as we know it has become obsolete and the traditional approach of how to engage, acquire and collaborate employees is being redefined by innovative, agile strategies to keep business running and positioned in 2021 and beyond.
One of the biggest and daunting challenges that leaders are facing right now is how to focus, motivate and enable their workforce to do critical assignments needed to keep their businesses running and positioned in the current year. 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for the employees especially those working remotely who can feel isolated and lonely, particularly for those high-performing socializers in the team who are engaged to perform and reflect the high-performing office culture.
We have entered the 4th Industrial Revolution now, looking into the challenges of the pandemic and flexible work environment policy. The recent global pandemic has redefined the business environment, how we work, operate and execute, and engage people, clients, and shareholders.
Change is the new normal: Shift in 2021: “I think, I can do it online”
CEOs have spent the last year guiding their companies through a year of pandemic, business turmoil, and economic bedlam. In 2020, employees’ relationship to work changed fundamentally and forever giving rise to a new virtual working environment. There is a new world being born – the human workplace – and leaders need to pay attention to the new existing workforce, which has changed considerably over the last year.
We need to take lessons from the world’s best-performing companies who have redefined their working environment by driving the change in a positive way. Their success is based on designing the company culture through redefining the “internal customer experience” that requires a company culture in which everyone is passionately engaged, empowered, and united by common values.
To design such a culture, businesses need to recognize three vital truths from the last decade:
- Managing work has evolved permanently from manager control to self-directed, self-governing teams. Employees know what they want and insist companies honour their values. This has given rise to the gig workforce, which has a focus on the rising subject matter experts, who are self-driven committed professionals.
- The workplace is the “new virtual workspace” for tens of millions and many employees it’s a safe harbour of unified purpose and values in a differentiated work environment.
- We need to bind human capability to move ahead in the current year. In 2020 the best of our employees’ performance was executed with precision towards empathy, creativity and innovation. Based on these truths, we see five inevitable forces moving us into 2021 and beyond:
a) The Human Workplace is Digital
There has been a huge change in the work dynamics in the last year especially the growing importance of real-time data. We have seen industry stalwarts describing “The 4 cardinal rules” for business as Anytime, Anywhere, Anyhow, and Any device. Employees have demanded the need for the data at a personalized level. The need for data has been a concern for the employees, especially when demanding workplace solutions which are automated, personalized, and have a faster response time. Authentic connection binds a community most effectively when people appreciate and respect each other, recognizing their efforts and their common values.
b) Pay, Reward & Performance will Be Agile
The traditional compensation structure (salary, bonus, increments, annual increase) has been very same throughout the decades. In the latest new working environment, there is a paradigm shift in compensation management, and a change is required based on a simple fact: the best performers closest to the work are best suited to rate performance and define the standards of the KRAs for the role.
There is an emerging trend of making the best performers the torchbearers for a given role. The star performers should define the performance standards and this should be as per the need and standards set by the business. The age-old custom of defining the KRA’s by the manager and the goals is non-existent.
Rewards & Recognition should be decided as a part of the percentage of pay given to employees to award to each other through a social recognition program. The payment must be monetized instantly using a defined percentage (%) of salary funds. Peers can reward each other for great performance, symbolically highlighting values like customer focus, innovation, business growth, and internal stakeholder management.
Agile performance management enables all managers and employees to define and communicate goals, set business goals, and priorities, and prepare action planning. Managers can’t be everywhere; therefore, they should welcome agile peer-to-peer appreciation regularly.
The Workplace Needs Metrics, AI & ML for Understanding the Performance Drivers
Key Result Areas and their achievement is the traditional approach for performance management and understanding the metrics. In 2021, the next metrics will connect behaviour with key goals outcome, depicting not only what happened but how it happened. There are many instances that define the new-age performance. Why does one function have better revenue growth margins, less attrition rate compared to another, thereby reduced hiring cost? Why is one group more innovative than the other one?
Traditional performance management will not answer these questions, but a growing definition of recognition moments analysed with natural language processing and machine learning will.
Reset Work life
The last 12 months have seen managers facing several challenges in managing the team members, which has changed the ways of working immensely. Data-driven PMS has replaced perception-based PMS in the current work life. Remote working and self-learning are now the driving principles for the employees. The hugely altered environment has forced organizations to look at their digitization agenda with a renewed interest.
Agile goal-setting process and continuously reviewing them is now a key management tool that organizations can leverage to reflect urgent priorities. In the past, organizations have been reluctant to make changes (despite PMS allowing it), but many are now updating goals and metrics to reflect their self-driven PMS process.
Driving performance will continue to be the most challenging area to focus on especially in the agile work environment. It is time for the organizations to redefine the team and focus on individual performance and provide governance around employee and manager’s regular performance conversations. All this will be achieved by managing change in the way we work and doing away with the traditional approach of managing employees.